Senate fundraising chair unexpectedly resigns

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Abhinav Kumar resigned from the Senate of College Councils on Monday by thanking the organization for the free t-shirts he received during his time as fundraising chair — and saying that was all he was grateful for.

In a document sent to more than 100 members of Senate, Kumar, former Senate fundraising chair and opinion columnist for The Daily Texan, expressed his frustration with the organization and criticized the organization’s “move up or move out” internal structure.

“I am not trying to burn any bridges here,” Kumar, economics, humanities and human dimensions of organizations sophomore, said in the letter. “But this organization is toxic, inefficient and an embarrassment to the University of Texas at Austin.”

Austin Reynolds, English senior and Senate vice president, said Kumar’s letter opened up an important conversation with the leadership team about the culture of Senate.

“Undoubtedly, Senate can be a ‘move up or move out’ organization,” Reynolds said. “If you’re not consistently moving up year after year, you can feel excluded and unheard. That’s a critique that we’ve heard in the past, and that’s no surprise.”

Kumar said during an interview with the Texan that he proposed an idea for a student handbook to be distributed throughout campus, but became frustrated when he didn’t receive hands-on help with his initiative.

Reynolds said he and Sergio Cavazos, Senate president and government senior, sat down with Kumar last week to help Kumar find ways to gain sponsorships for his proposal.

“We knew of his concern, but we didn’t know it would take it to this level,” Reynolds said. “The meeting was generally productive, … and I gave him a game plan to reach out to councils.”

Kumar, in his letter, referred to one couple in Senate as unknowingly racist and another member as self-involved and unable of handling responsibility. Kumar has declined to name these individuals.

Cavazos released an email statement Monday night to the rest of the organization saying the efforts of the Senate committees are for servant leadership, not for self-serving purposes and the Senate should be proud of their accomplishments.

“Some of his concerns are valid and worth considering since we always strive to improve the organization for the generations to come,” Cavazos said in the email. “However, some of the personal attacks made were inappropriate, unfounded and will not be tolerated.”

Chris Whitehair, finance director and finance senior, said Kumar’s issues with the internal structure of Senate have merit, but the personal allegations were uncalled for.

“Those personal allegations are baseless, and they really did hurt people of this organization,” Whitehair said. “To bring accusations against people like that in the way that he did was not respectful, (and) it was not a way you go about addressing things like that.”

“Kumar has not raised any money through the Senate of College Councils, and he has not brought any money into any of the formal Senate of College Councils bank accounts,” Whitehair said. Kumar has been fundraising chair of Senate for 10 months.

Kumar said in an interview with the Texan that he has not raised any money because the impact would have been too minimal to make a difference on the student body.

Cavazos said he is always open to changing the internal structure of the Senate to better serve students on campus.